One of Recurrent’s missions is to help dispel the myth that EVs are all fancy Teslas. In fact, it is very important to get electric vehicles into the hands of a wider demographic - not just to accelerate adoption, but to improve ground level air quality and help lower income households with transportation and fuel costs.

While car manufacturers are working to bring affordable new models to market, the fact remains that 80% of the EV sales in July 2023 were "premium" priced cars, compared to only 15% of gas cars. So what is a price-sensitive shopper to do?

Used EVs are a great option for shoppers looking for a deal, and after record price increases in 2021 and 2022, the used market is trending back towards reasonable pricing. Plus, there are more recent model-year vehicles for sale than ever.

If you’re looking for a budget EV, check out Best Used EVs Under $20K for some insight. However, if you can push your budget up to $30K or $40K, there are a lot more options, including newer models that boast higher range, faster charging, and more features. 

Best Used EVs Under $30K

2022 Nissan LEAF - 151 miles of EPA rated range

  • The LEAF is one of the earliest EVs to hit the streets and it has a near cult following. Since it has been on the road since 2012, the early manufacturing bugs are worked out. It is inexpensive to own, comfortable, and 80% of LEAF drivers would buy another one. Plus, a later model year will still have great range and most of the battery warranty left. One thing to note: the LEAF is the only modern EV that does not use active thermal management, so it will last the longest in cooler, coastal climates.

2012 - 2014 Tesla Model S  - 200 to 265 miles of EPA rated range

  • Looking to drive a legend? It's not a Roadster, but the Tesla Model S is still EV royalty. As Tesla lowers the price of its new models, used prices also fall into the "surprisingly reasonable" territory. Although these cars will be out of warranty, they can still be reliable rides, especially if they already had their batteries replaced by a first owner.

2022 or 2023 Chevy Bolt - 259 miles of EPA rated range

  • Despite the battery recall saga of 2021, the Chevy Bolt is a great EV with unbeatable range for its price. The newest model years were not affected by the faulty packs. Although the 2023s were eligible for the $7500 EV tax credit if purchased new, they are still worth considering. If you can find one under $25,000, it may also qualify for the $4000 used EV tax credit!

2019 or 2020 BMW i3 - 153 miles of EPA rated range

  • The BMW i3 was built from the ground up with sustainability in mind. It uses state of the art recycled materials that enhance performance. Despite the relatively short range by 2023 standards, it is amazingly fun to drive, and gets high satisfaction ratings from our drivers. The i3 also comes with an optional range extender feature, called REx, which often comes in under $30K. 

Plug-in Hybrids Under $30K 

Plug-in hybrids offer limited all electric range after which a combustion engine kicks in to power the car. Drivers report they can run most errands and handle city driving without needing to fill the tank, but feel safe knowing they have additional range should they need it. 

2021 Toyota Prius Prime - 25 miles of EPA rated all electric range; up to 640 combined 

  • The Toyota Prius was many people’s introduction to hybrid electric vehicles. Unlike the Prius, the Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid, meaning that the first 25 miles are all electric and zero emissions. 

2021 Honda Clarity - 47 miles of EPA rated all electric range, up to 340 combined

  • Although Honda has yet to throw itself into the all-electric game, the Clarity is a well-loved plug-in hybrid with enough emissions-free miles to run at least a full day worth of errands.

2019 Chevy Volt - 53 miles of EPA rated all electric range, up to 420 combined

  • The Chevy Volt has one of the highest all-electric ranges for a hybrid vehicle. Recurrent has many loyal Volt drivers who claim they only fill their gas tank 2-4 times a year.

Best Used EVs Between $30K and $40K

If you have room in your budget to look at vehicles up to $40K, you open the door to more than half the national used EV inventory. You start to see some slightly older luxury cars - Porche & Mercedes hybrids, Audis and Teslas - as well as some very new mid-priced options. Yes, there are a handful of tempting new EVs that fall into this price range, but shopping used may offer a wider selection of perks and add-ons.

Some interesting finds are:

2021 Polestar 2 - 233 miles of EPA rated range

  • The Polestar was an exciting entry to the EV market and can now be found at perfectly reasonable prices. Polestar is a Volvo offspring, so you can expect minimalist design and a focus on safety. It has a roomy frunk, and some trims are equipped with a glass-top roof.

2021 or 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 - 245 - 280 miles of EPA rated range

  • The ID.4 was the "it" car when it debuted in 2021, but a handful of them are up for sale on the second hand market at very tempting prices. It is roomy, stylish, and perfect for the driver who wants to say "emissions free" without shouting it.

2021 Tesla Model 3 - 220 to 310 miles of EPA rated range

  • Everything to say about the Model 3 has already been said. A Tesla from 2021 will have very light battery and range degradation, many years left on the transferrable battery warranty, and access to the top-rated Supercharger network. While you can get a new RWD Model 3 for under $40K, there are more options (FSD anyone?) if you shop used.

Plug-in Hybrids options include:

2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - 32 miles EPA rated all electric range, 520 miles combined

  • This minivan is not your standard order family car. With 32 miles of all electric range and a ton of technology, it can shuttle you (and your family) around for day-to-day business with no emissions. And, for stress-free longer trips, you have a gas tank.

2019 + 2020 BMW 530e - 21 miles EPA rated all electric range, 350 miles combined

  • Under the radar, BMW sells a lot of electric vehicles, although most of them in the US are hybrids. However, the stylish BMW plug-ins get the full luxury treatment, with plenty of power, handling, and a battery that you can recharge with a 110V plug. 

2017 Porsche Cayenne - 14 miles EPA rated all electric range, 480 miles combined

  • 14 miles of electric range is not really that much, but we were surprised to see Porsche hybrids under $40K. It just goes to show why it's worth taking a look at the used market.

Things to Consider When EV Shopping

The battery is the heart of an EV. Rather than burning gasoline to power a car, electric cars use a very strong lithium ion battery, like a far more complex version of the battery in your cell phone or computer.

Here are some important things to keep in mind.


When your phone battery is close to depleted, you plug it in to a charger that’s connected to an electric outlet. EVs are no different. While you can plug an electric car into your wall, it’s a pretty big battery and it may take a long time to fully charge. Many EV drivers have special, higher voltage chargers installed at home (or at work!) so they can “refuel” their car in a matter of hours. If you're going for a hybrid, rather than an all-electric, you can likely get by recharging your car using just a standard, 110V plug.

Just as a reminder, the 240V plug that you'd use for EV charging is the same as what a typical washer/dryer unit needs. You may be able to get rebates, incentives, or tax credits if you install an EV charger at home or work - this varies state by state and by utility company

Like with a gas car, you don’t always have to refill the entire battery, but you can “top off” or just add enough energy to get you where you’re going next. Lithium ion batteries fill up more quickly at first then slow down as they get past 80% charged.


Beyond the fancy technology and sci-fi lingo, EVs are much simpler machines than their gas-using counterparts. There are no internal explosions (“combustion”), no spark plugs, and no gears. This means that a lot less can break. However, EVs are still expensive pieces of equipment that you invest in, and they do come with warranties. While the powertrain and mechanical parts of the warranty are similar to gas fueled cars, what most people care about with EVs is the battery warranty. This protects the most expensive part of your EV from serious malfunction, and often guarantees that it will maintain a certain degree of battery health over a certain amount of time. Most often, batteries are insured for 8 years or 100,000 miles. 

Note that drivers of plug-in hybrids in certain states that adhere to California’s air quality rules may have longer or more comprehensive warranties on their batteries - 10 years or 150,000 miles in PZEV states. 


Efficiency for EVs is expressed in MPGe, or “miles per gallon (of gasoline) equivalent.” This measurement is a way to compare the energy used by an EV to that used by a conventional vehicle. MPGe is calculated using the standard value of 33.7 kilowatt-hours (121 megajoules) of electricity being equivalent to one gallon of gas. This is an estimate based on the standard value of energy in one gallon of gasoline, and is also equivalent to 115,000 British thermal units (BTUs). 

The overall MPGe value is usually a combination of city and highway values. Unlike traditional cars, electric cars drive more efficiently on city streets, due to slower speeds and recaptured energy from regenerative braking

Other values you may see on an EPA Fuel Economy sticker are kilowatt hours per 100 miles, or kWh/100mi. This is an expression of efficiency that may be more familiar to drivers: it is similar to how many gallons of gas you need to go 100 miles. The lower the number, the more efficient the vehicle. The average miles per kWh is between 2 and 4 for most commercially available EVs, with that value varying on how fast and where you’re driving

Final Tips for Finding the Best Used EV

In general, you’ll find that less expensive EVs are older and have smaller batteries that can't travel as far on a charge. This is largely due to the price of lithium ion batteries, which has dropped around 85% in ten years on a per kWh basis. This means that even modest batteries in 2013 were far more expensive than bigger batteries in 2020. 

Looking for your first electric car? Check out by our free e-book on EV range.